Hayden When a fall 2008 ban on "grind dancing" at Hayden High School events had some students saying they wouldn't have any other way to move across the floor at Saturday's prom, high school senior Mitchell VeDepo decided to take action.
VeDepo, a student council representative for the senior class, started a student petition to lift the ban. He organized a public meeting to hear student and parent concerns and to start working on a set of guidelines that could replace the prohibition.
Several Hayden School Board meetings, student council discussions and sit-downs with Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel later, VeDepo was able to get a new set of rules in place and set up a dance clinic for interested students.
On Thursday, sophomores, juniors and seniors filled the high school gym to learn line dances such as the "Electric Slide" and "Cotton-Eyed Joe," and partner dances such as a basic two-step, country waltz and country swing.
"I thought it would be a lot of fun to get people who wanted to, to come in here and learn some other ways to dance," VeDepo said. He already knew the "Electric Slide" and a few swing dance moves, and took the time to learn a basic two-step and country waltz to help teach his classmates.
Jake Magee, a senior and student council vice president, said the dance class came out of an effort to give students options at school events - ones that wouldn't be subject to administrative bans.
"We always got accused of only knowing the grind dance, and that was everyone's excuse. So we figured, as a student council, that we would teach them to swing dance and line dance, so they can't use that as an excuse," Magee said.
Hayden Valley Elementary School Principal Rhonda Sweetser, Hayden Middle School Principal Gina Zabel and wrestling coach Ty Zabel teamed up to teach the dances.
"The music of today is really hard to dance to, so we just wanted to give them some variety and different things they can do," Gina Zabel said.
Aside from a minor traffic jam during the first few runs of "Cotton-Eyed Joe," the dance clinic looked like a success, as students partnered up with one another and teachers to learn the shuffling steps of the waltz and two-step.
"For the most part, they're all trying. This is new to them, so they're being good sports," Gina Zabel said.
VeDepo said he thinks students will use what they learned in the one-hour dance class at school prom Saturday.
"It's a lot of fun, so I hope they do," he said.